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Adobe promises faster Flash on Macs

The Mac version of the widely used browser plug-in should catch up to the Windows version soon. Also: an apology for mishandling a bug.

Adobe Systems, evidently stung by recent criticisms of its widely used Flash Player browser plug-in, has promised better performance on Mac systems.

"Given identical hardware, Flash Player on Windows has historically been faster than the Mac, and it is for the most part the same code running in Flash for each operating system," said Adobe Chief Technology Officer Kevin Lynch in a follow-up comment to his own blog post. But Adobe and Apple have been cooperating to make things better, he said. "In Flash Player 10.1 we are moving to Core Animation, which will further reduce CPU usage and, we believe, will get us to the point where Mac will be faster than Windows for graphics rendering."

Things should get better with video, too, one of the primary reasons Flash has thrived on the Web. "Video rendering is an area we are focusing more attention on--for example, today a 480p video on a 1.8Ghz Mac Mini in Safari uses about 34 percent of CPU on Mac versus 16 percent on Windows (running in BootCamp on same hardware). With Flash Player 10.1, we are optimizing video rendering further on the Mac and expect to reduce CPU usage by half, bringing Mac and Windows closer to parity for video."

The words reflect an Adobe effort to explain itself while under competitive threat. HTML is gradually encroaching on the turf Flash has had largely to itself, and some are taking advantage of the opportunity to bash Flash.

Adobe also is taking on the matter of bugs.

In particular, it's answering a security problem Matthew Dempsky reported in September 2008, shortly before Flash Player 10 was issued. Dempsky took Lynch to task for his statement in the comment that "we don't ship Flash with any known crash bugs, and if there was such a widespread problem historically Flash could not have achieved its wide use today."

Flash Player manager Emmy Huang apologized for the issue in a separate blog post.

"We picked up the bug as a crasher when it was filed on September 22, 2008, and were able to reproduce it. Remember that Flash Player 10 shipped in October 2008, so when this bug was reported we were pretty much locked and loaded for launch. The mistake we made was marking this bug for 'next' release, which is the soon to be released Flash Player 10.1, instead of marking it for the next Flash Player 10 security dot release. We should have kept in contact with the submitter and to let him know the progress, sorry we did not do that," Huang said. "It slipped through the cracks, and it is not something we take lightly."

And for those who are interested in helping Adobe track down problems, Adobe's Ted Patrick called on people to try the Flash Player 10.1 beta.